Governor Abbott addressed the 84th Legislature this afternoon. He detailed his proposed state budget (Governor's proposed budget), starting with his priorities for public education. He stated that Texas can be number one in education if the state applies the same tenacity it did with job creation. Gov. Abbott called for an end to school finance litigation. He commented it was time to stop fighting and time to make schools better for students. In doing so, he made improving early education his first emergency item of the session. He called for more choice for parents and students. He called for genuine local control for school districts.
Gov. Abbott also called for a $2 billion reduction in the state's business tax (franchise tax) and $2.2 billion in property tax relief. He stated that he would make sure school districts are held harmless for any revenue impact due to the reduction He then commented that he wanted this property tax relief to be lasting, hinting at, but not explicitly saying, there was a need for lowering the state's 10% appraisal limit. Gov. Abbott also recommended that the state adopt a more strict budget limitation (only allowing growth at the rate of population + inflation).
Gov. Abbott's public education proposal includes:
The cornerstone of Texas’ future is education. Texas is
number one in the nation on so many fronts, including job creation, energy
production, and exports. We should similarly strive to be number one in education.
Candidly, failure to improve Texas schools could compromise the state’s
premiere economic standing. This budget takes a first step in that
direction by outlining $403 million in initiatives designed to improve
student educational outcomes, while fully funding the current public education
formulas and returning more local control to parents and teachers.
The literacy and mathematics skills children learn in
prekindergarten (pre-k) through third grade form the foundation for their
futures, both in school and in life. Our primary goal should be to ensure all
Texas students perform at grade level by the third grade in reading and
math. To begin that process, the Governor’s Budget provides $182 million
in an integrated pre-k through third grade program. This new $182 million
infusion in public education includes $118 million for implementing a
high-quality pre-k program for eligible Texas pre-k students and $64
million for providing each Texas pre-k through third grade teacher with
world-class, multi-day, face-to-face professional development through Literacy
and Math Achievement Academies and Reading Excellence Teams.
$30 million in funding is provided for Reading-to-Learn Academies for
fourth and fifth grade educators so they are better prepared to help their
students with reading comprehension.Texas must also begin the process of
reinventing and improving its entire public education system to achieve
better academic outcomes.
The state must end the one-size-fits-all approach for
all public school districts and campuses. Parents, teachers, and
principals must be empowered to make decisions and changes within their
local school system, and it is critical that genuine local control over our
public schools is restored. The state must ensure that parents, students,
and teachers have better access to valuable information about their
school’s performance. To achieve that, the state should require that each
public school publish an A – F report card on its campus website. Further,
to prevent students from being stuck in failing schools, the state should
empower parents to petition to change campus management at underachieving
schools. In addition, the state should create an Achievement School District
(ASD) to provide an expedited process through which the state’s lowest
performing elementary schools would receive specialized attention — by
being placed under management of the ASD — to improve the
Because technology plays an integral role across multiple
sectors of Texas’ economy, this budget devotes $164 million to provide
students with digital learning opportunities, especially at low-performing
schools, and greater access to high-quality online courses and tools to
help students succeed on high school end-of-course exams.
The state must also devote $12 million to programs that
improve the teacher pipeline by attracting more high-quality teachers —
especially in shortage areas, including science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics (STEM) — and provide leadership training for principals.
The state must ensure that every child who graduates from a
Texas high school is college- or career-ready. By reforming the state’s
public education system, the state will help ensure that all high school
students are equipped for postsecondary success.